COVID-19 symptoms often appear in this specific order
By now, you’re probably pretty clued up on the first signs of coronavirus (fever! Coughing! Shortness of breath!) But considering these symptoms can also be early indicators of the common cold or flu, the only way to know for sure is to take a test.
Frustrating? You bet (especially since having a swab stuck up your nose isn’t all that pleasant.) But new evidence suggests there’s a certain order in which COVID-19 symptoms manifest, making it way easier to tell if you’re *actually* infected or not.
Researchers from the University of South California (USC) looked at data from more than 55,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across China. They found that most patients initially presented with a fever, followed by a cough, nausea and/or vomiting and diarrhoea.
When they expanded their analysis to include additional symptoms, the order still looked similar:
- Sore throat, muscle pain, or headache
- Nausea and/or vomiting
In other respiratory illnesses (e.g. the flu), the first symptom you’ll usually come down with is a cough. In addition, you may develop body aches, a headache and a sore throat too. Albeit subtle, these differences are important to note, as the coronavirus is two to three times more contagious than influenza.
"This order is especially important to know when we have overlapping cycles of illnesses like the flu that coincide with infections of COVID-19,” Peter Kuhn, a USC professor of medicine, biomedical engineering, and aerospace and mechanical engineering said in the report which was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.
“Doctors can determine what steps to take to care for the patient, and they may prevent the patient's condition from worsening.”
This order was consistent in both mild and serious cases. Although it’s important to note that not everyone will experience every symptoms listed above (in fact, almost 42 per cent of those infected are asymptomatic.)
“It’s not going to be universal,” Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine weighed in. “We know, for starters, that a number of people don't have a fever."
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